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Burglars hit 18 large homes since October in Baltimore County, including three on Jan. 19 in Towson

Maj. David Folderauer, Baltimore County Police’s western patrol commander, briefs Baltimore County residents on a string of residential burglaries along the Falls Road corridor. Thieves have hit 18 large homes from Hunt Valley to Pikesville since October.
Maj. David Folderauer, Baltimore County Police’s western patrol commander, briefs Baltimore County residents on a string of residential burglaries along the Falls Road corridor. Thieves have hit 18 large homes from Hunt Valley to Pikesville since October. (Margarita Cambest/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

In quiet communities in the outskirts of Baltimore County, residents of large homes tucked down secluded roads in Cockeysville, Hunt Valley, Pikesville—and inside the Beltway in Towson’s Ruxton and Riderwood neighborhoods—are worried.

Areas along the Falls Road corridor have seen a rash of residential burglaries in recent months, according to Baltimore County police, who say burglars have struck 18 large homes since October, including three in Towson on Jan. 19.

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The thieves have taken money, jewelry, safes, handbags and identification in what police believe are related incidents.

In response to the break-ins, the Baltimore County Police Department hosted a community briefing Tuesday night at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium that drew more than 500 residents to ask questions about what police were doing to solve the crimes and voice concerns about their safety.

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A standing-room crowd gathered in the fairground’s auction building, with dozens trickling into the two-hour meeting well after it started.

Maj. David Folderauer, Baltimore County Police’s western patrol commander, described the crimes occurring and gave safety tips on what to do to protect homes before taking dozens of questions from those in attendance.

Folderauer said the thieves are forcing their way into homes that appear to be empty and leaving with high-priced valuables in under 10 minutes. In just one of the 18 cases, someone was at home, and the thieves fled leading police to believe the people involved are not looking for a fight, he said.

A group of thieves has burglarized more than a dozen homes in Pikesville, Franklin, Cockeysville and Towson in the past three months, according to Baltimore County Police.

There are no suspects in the break-ins yet as camera footage recovered from some incidents shows a person covered from head to toe, he said.

A “dark-colored SUV” also may be of interest, Folderauer said.

“It’s very rare that your communities are being targeted the way they have been in the past couple of months,” Folderauer said, adding that the only common thread among the break-ins is that all the homes are near Falls Road, with easy access to Interstate 83 and the Beltway.

Folderauer suggested leaving lights on inside and outside homes to make it appear that someone is home at all times, ensuring that alarm systems are activated and doors are locked. He also stressed the importance of reporting any and all suspicious activity.

“I know how scary this is and invasive it is, but we want you to know we are engaged,” Folderauer said.

Residents questioned the speed at which the public is notified of crime in their neighborhoods.

“I find it disappointing that it took 18 people to be robbed to get this kind of response,” said one man, who did not want to be identified.

“As a citizen I feel like it’s up to [police] to notify me of these robberies,” he added after the meeting. “It would have been nice to find out sooner.”

However, questions residents asked about what police were doing to solve the crimes remained unanswered. Folderauer said the presence of television cameras at the meeting prohibited him from sharing additional details with the public.

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Instead, Folderauer said police would send out email updates to residents who sign up to receive them or email their precinct commanders directly.

“I can tell you that we’re out there,” Folderauer said. “You might not see it, but that’s the way we want it to be.”

Other residents shared concerns that the burglars would return or that the crimes would escalate.

Nicholsons Manor Homeowners Association president Mike Shields said a previous meeting in Owings Mills the week before at the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Department drew so many people that dozens were turned away before the 7 p.m. start.

Two houses in Shields’ Cockeysville neighborhood were targeted earlier this month.

“We’re pretty buttoned up right now,” Shields said. “I don’t want to say on edge, but certainly the two break-ins have made people more situationally aware and more inclined to notice suspicious vehicles.”

Sometime during the day, homes on Gardiner Road were broken into and their medicine cabinets were rummaged through.

In both cases, nothing seemed to be taken, according to Cockeysville precinct incident summaries. However, later that same day, someone entered a nearby home in the unit block of Ridge Farm Court after breaking a glass door and left with a safe.

To better protect the neighborhood, Shields said that at the next association meeting he will propose gating the community. The proposal has drawn opposition in the past but he said he believes he’ll get support this time with the break-ins hitting so close to home.

“There seems to be some momentum now that we’ve had these things happen,” he said.

Suzin Webster, of Cockeysville, said she was robbed in November in the time it took her to return from a 45-minute morning grocery run in Towson. The burglar entered through an unlocked back door and cleared her home of jewelry, televisions and other electronics in under seven minutes, she said.

The suspect in that crime was found, she said, but released after a short time in jail.

“It’s very isolating when you’re robbed,” Webster said. “Nobody was hurt, but it’s very scary to have your place violated.”

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